This is one that collected dust on my to-read list for years, forgotten about, until I saw a review here recently. Upon seeing that review, I immediately put in a hold request for it at the library, even though they only had a large print version, randomly, which always makes me feel self-conscious (I don’t need the large print, I swear!). I’ve barely listened to the author’s music, but the title, and the book’s acclaim, had me quite curious. You know, because I’m a masochist, routinely seeking out stories of other people’s suffering to feel something. Maybe I do it to feel better about my own life? I don’t know. All I do know is I have a problem; take one look at my Top 20 movies on Flickchart and you’re liable to ask if I’m okay, with movies like Dear Zachary and When the Wind Blows. I don’t know why it is that I hold dear experiences that push me to tears so much, but it’s an ongoing theme I’ve come to notice.
Anyway, I thankfully made it through this one with both of my eyes remaining dry. There were some moments I came close, such as when her mother revealed something to her in a very damning fashion, except I think I was desensitized from having read Jennette McCurdy’s book prior to this. In fact, reading this, I couldn’t help but compare the two mothers. They were a lot alike in how they treated their daughters, only Zauner’s was by far the less extreme and controlling, at least begrudgingly letting her live her life, even if it meant cutting ties to some degree. Similarly, I was heartened to see that illness brought out the best in her, as opposed to the worst (as was the case in the case of McCurdy’s mom). I had braced for a dark downturn that thankfully never came.
How this book got me, though, was in the unexpected bits about her father. When we learned more about his past, and what his dad was like, I suddenly wanted that biography of him she joked about at one point. Something along the lines of The Best Used Car Salesman in the World. He was a deeply flawed person, from an equally flawed family, and while that doesn’t absolve him of guilt, it does make me feel for him to some degree and wonder what his life could’ve been had things not gone the way they had.
All in all, it was a touching, if at times rough to get through, story of the imperfect love this family had for one another, even during the toughest of times, and I’d recommend anybody give it a read.